While local COVID cases decrease, hospitals warn of shortages among staff members


Corrections and clarifications: An earlier version of this story’s incorrectly stated Dr. Jennifer Tuteur‘s last name and title. The errors have been corrected.

SAN DIEGO — San Diego County’s COVID-19 numbers are trending in the right direction with case numbers dropping locally, but officials say they’re still having trouble keeping hospitals operating smoothly.

According to county officials, there’s been an easing from the summer surge, with cases falling from 1,500 per day to 750 per day over the last 15 days. Thus far, there have been 4.2 million doses of vaccine administered to San Diegans.

San Diego City Council met over Zoom Monday to discuss the latest information in the fight against COVID.

Medical officials reported that while the cases are declining, there are warnings of a fifth surge, leading to an extreme burnout among hospital staff members and entry-level employees.

“We are seeing a shortage of really the entry-level positions at one of our sites,” a hospital administrator said during the meeting. “We had to stop doing X-rays so we could transfer patients to different places, so it seems entry-level positions are what we are struggling with right now.”

There is currently a positivity rate of 3.9, higher than the county’s earlier summer months. As the winter months bring people closer together, medical experts say the delta variant will be spread along with the regular flu, potentially causing a dangerous mix of viruses. 

Dr. Jennifer Tuteur, the county’s deputy chief medical officer, says it’s clear the virus has wholly changed.

“It’s able to spread so rapidly airborne and symptoms come on a little bit sooner and the transmission is a little bit easier, and so those are things that variants and viruses like because their goal is to keep replicating,” Tuteur said. 

While cases in California are the lowest per capita in the U.S., officials are also warning the unvaccinated that they are more vulnerable than ever before because the delta variant is making up 99% of new infections.  

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